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Nancy Greenstein chapter 1


Chapter 1: Childhood (you are here)
Chapter 2: Marriage and Family
Chapter 3: Sibling Relationship
Chapter 4: Finding Supports for Robin
Chapter 5: Access to School
Chapter 6: Parent Network
Chapter 7: Involvement with PATH (People Acting to Help)
Chapter 8: Transition from Pennhurst and Community Collaborative
Chapter 9: Parents and Advocacy Efforts Today
Chapter 10: Reflections on Life, Advocacy

transcript - entire interview

Nancy Greenstein Interview (Word)

transcript - current chapter

Chapter 1: Childhood

12:17:24:20 - 12:18:14:22

Lisa: Nancy, first I'll introduce the interview by saying welcome, and my name is Lisa Sonneborn, and I'm here today with Nancy Greenstein at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 27, 2012. And also present is our videographer, Aggie Ibrahimi-Bazaz, and Mrs. Greenstein, Nancy, do we have your permission to begin the interview?

Nancy: You know, right now, I didn't hear the question.

Lisa: No problem. Do we have your permission to begin the interview?

Nancy: Of course. Otherwise I wouldn't be here.

Lisa: Thank you. Nancy, the first question I'd like to ask is when and where you were born.

Nancy: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Lisa: When?

Nancy: June 4, 1929. I'm going to be 83 in a few months.

Lisa: Happy birthday in advance.

Nancy: Thank you.


Lisa: I wonder, Nancy, if you could share with us some of your earliest childhood memories.

Nancy: Oh, my. Joining the library at a very early age. We didn't have a car so we walked, you know, and that's how I spent my summers, really, was going to the library and reading all the fairy tales. I was a very, very good reader of fairy tales, strong believer of fairy tales.

Lisa: Did you have a favorite fairy tale?

Nancy: Everything that ended happily ever after.

Lisa: I wonder if you can tell me a little bit about your mother.

Nancy: My mother? Was a typical homemaker. In those days, when you got married you did not go to work, so -- and I was born on their first anniversary. So she was very, very good homemaker. My parents were very devoted to us. I had a younger brother, three years younger, and it was a pleasure having my parents, and I'm always very thankful is what I had -- very loving, very giving, all the way up until when they were no longer here, and very great supporter of Robbie and whatever I was deciding to do. So I always was -- considered myself very fortunate that way. Then 15 years later my sister was born, so there's a gap. My brother was three years younger, my sister is 15 years younger than I am. But still very devoted to each other. We're best friends.


Lisa: I wonder, Nancy, if you have a favorite memory of your father?

Nancy: Oh, my father and I were extremely close. We both loved music, and he took me to my first concert at the Academy of Music when I was five. Jose Iturbi had just come over from Spain because of the Spanish Civil War, and that was my first introduction to classical music, and I'm still at it.

And we went to as many concerts as possible, and growing up I used to have a season ticket to Robin Hood Dell. And in those days, you could go by yourself. It was fine, and I lived for that in the summertime.


Lisa: I wonder, Nancy, you described yourself as a great reader, and a believer in fairy tales. I wonder what you envisioned for yourself as a young girl, for your own future.

Nancy: Seriously, I wanted to be a nurse growing up, and my grandfather was -- I was the oldest grandchild. His granddaughter was not going to be a nurse. He had been a patient in the hospital. In those days, nursing was not the way it is today. Nurses did a lot of grunge work, and he didn't see his granddaughter doing things like that. So -- and I listened, and of course met somebody from my graduating class from high school, and she loved it, and my parents said okay, next year you can do it. In the meantime, I heard about medical technology and applied to Hahnemann [Hospital]. They accepted me -- I had to wait until I was 18 before I could start everything.

Lisa: But at 18 they accepted you before you had even gone to college.

Nancy: I didn't go to college. They accepted me without college, one of the few that they accepted me without college. So -- however, there was a caveat. Because my religion -- if I didn't work out, there wouldn't be another one after me.


Lisa: And how did that relate to your religion?

Nancy: Oh well, you know how -- it happened before I even graduated high school. When I went for an interview for a typist clerk, and afterwards, my father said, "Well they don't hire Jews", which I didn't know about. But even Bell Telephone at that time didn't hire African American, didn't hire Jewish people. So my brother -- I guess I'm going backwards a little bit.

My brother was younger, three years younger, and in those days, it was thought that if somebody was going to go to college, it would be the male because he would be the provider all his life. And since I was close in age, that he should go, and I couldn't go. But I worked for a year at Blue Cross as a typist clerk, and got the money together to go to Hahnemann, and there were other Jewish people after me. So I'm going back and forth.

Lisa: That's the way memory works.

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